Autumn brings Manofim season, the official opening of the contemporary art scene in Jerusalem. Manofim, which translates as cranes — the kind used in construction projects — is an independent initiative by artists who live and work in Jerusalem, and the goal is to introduce the local art scene to Jerusalemites and visitors, creating collaborative efforts between artists and institutions and generating artistic discussion.
It’s a tremendous endeavor on the part of the organizers and founders, Lee He Shulov and Rinat Edelstein, and the sixth season of the event begins Thursday night with more than 25 exhibitions opening simultaneously (free shuttles take visitors from gallery to gallery). From there, it’s a full week of artistic events, and we’ve picked five from among the offerings.
1) Start out at the Jerusalem Artists’ House on Thursday night, where a new exhibition of nine artists opens at this historical building that once housed the original Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts, known today as the Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design. The building also housed the Bezalel National Museum, the precursor of the Israel Museum. From there, take a free shuttle (stops are at regular Egged bus stops, just look for the Manofim signs) to one of 10 galleries open for the evening. There’s entertainment on the shuttle, ranging from the traveling theater of the Nissan Nativ acting school to poetry, raps, shadow theater and performance art.
Art in Motion, 7 p.m. to midnight.
2) Stick with the art of the outdoors for the weekend. Shabbat offers family-oriented art trips around the city, starting with the opening exhibition of “Amir Balaban: Naturally Tainted.” Balaban is a birdwatcher and watercolorist whose exhibit at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory includes a tour, stories behind the artworks told by Balaban himself, and a wildlife sketching workshop. Pre-booking required, call 052-386-9488 for the 11 a.m. event. Then head up to the Stern Gallery at Mount Scopus for “Treasures Over Time” to examine an assemblage of furniture from different periods telling the story of the Land of Israel. For something with more action, consider 2πr², when the members of the Zik Group create a new sculpture on Saturday afternoon, at 4 p.m., Beit Nekofa industrial zone.
3) Leave Tuesday night free, and take the light rail over to the Notre Dame guesthouse, a visiting center for pilgrims traveling to the holy city, with a remarkable view of the city. Start out in Room 325, a typical hotel room which will be the setting of different scenes throughout the night, hosting performances and different art objects, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. When you’ve had enough of the hotel room, take the elevator all the way up to the spacious terrace overlooking East Jerusalem and beyond, where a series of sound words will “create moments of attention,” according to the Manofim organizers.
4) Finding it hard to set aside some time to focus on art? The Manofim folks have made it easy for you, replacing dozens of municipal billboards with artworks for the next 10 days. Called Black Box, the idea is to put art out on the street. Ads are replaced advertisements with a range of images so all passersby get to take some in during their daily routine. If music is your chosen art form, try Around the Block on Monday, when musical expression will take the lead, with the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir at Ticho House (from 7 p.m.); a rock jam session (7 p.m.) at Drumbite, 5 Yitzhak Elisar Street; Acoustic alternative music (8:30 p.m.) at Hataklitiya, also 5 Yitzhak Elisar Street; Amy McKnight & The Band (9 p.m.) at The Record, 7 Heleni HaMalka Street and Mujahedeen (11 p.m.), at Uganda, Aristobolus Street.
5) Finally, two other outdoorsy events: Green Muslala, an outdoor art track in Musrara, will be launched during Manofim, celebrating an art trail that deals with ecology and public art. Musrara Neighborhood Shelter 751, playground at 10/12 Ha’Ayin Het Street. On Thursday, October 24, the final day of Manofim, art enters the city’s hidden backyards with gallery talks, viewings and crafts stalls in the inner courtyards around Mahane Yehuda and Nahlaot. Head to the fair at Even Yisrael Square, Agrippas 12 (5-11 p.m.); a new opening (6 p.m.) at the Beautiful Eyes Gallery on 12 Mesilat Yesharim Street or the After Party at Bezalel7, the meeting place of Designers in the City and the Nocturno cafe (11 p.m.).